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  • Indiana became the 19th member of the United States of America in 1816. The state of Indiana is bordered to the south by the Ohio River with Kentucky on the opposite side of the river, Illinois to the west with the Wabash River forming the southernmost western border, Ohio to the east and Lake Michigan and the state of Michigan to the north. The terrain of the state varies from the industrial north with its multitude of lakes created from the ice age, through the flat agricultural central region to the rolling hills and lushly wooded southern region. The rivers of the northern-most portion of the state flow northward into Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, while the rivers to the south belong to the Wabash watershed draining southwesterly into the Ohio River. During the early 19th century, projects were initiated to connect the north-bound to the south-bound waterways via canals but were abandoned with the introduction of rail transportation.

  • The state of Indiana acquired the majority of its land with government purchases from local American native tribes in accordance to various treaties.

Before Statehood

  • Prior to 1816, the territory that was to become the state of Indiana was referred to as “The Indiana Territory” with it’s capital at Vincennes. After the formation of the original 13 colonies, American expansionism began by crossing the Appalachian Mountains forming frontiers in the Tennessee and Kentucky territories. The area northwest of the Ohio River and surrounding the Great Lakes region was home to many Indian tribes and was generally referred to as the Northwest Territory. As settlers migrated north into the Indian lands, conflicts arose and several pacts were negotiated, notably “The Greenville Treaty” which redefined the boundaries between the Americans and Native Americans. In the 1700’s, fur trapping was the primary industry in “The Ohio Territory” which included what later became “The Illinois Territory”, “The Indiana Territory” and the land surrounding “Fort Detroit” later to become Michigan.

    • Tecumseh’s Confederation

      • In the summer of 1811, Indiana Governor William Henry Harrison confronted approximately 20 unified tribes, primarily Shawnee and Potawatomi, at their capital of Prophetstown (named after Chief Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa – “The Prophet”) near the confluence of the Tippecanoe River and the Wabash River. “The Battle of Tippecanoe” occurred near what is today Lafayette, Indiana and resulted in heavy losses for the whites (61 killed, twice as many wounded), Indian losses are unknown. The Indian ambush was repelled and Prophetstown was burned to the ground. Tecumseh had been away, traveling to the deep south to muster Cree, Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and other southern tribes into his confederation.

    • War of 1812

      • Many of the regional tribes sided with the British, who furnished arms and served as allies against the Americans. General William Henry Harrison ordered an operation consisting of U.S. regulars and Militia units to be led by Col. John Campbell to chase Miami tribes along the Mississinewa River north to the point where it empties into the Wabash. A confrontation occurred near today’s city of Marion, Indiana referred to as the “Battle of Mississinewa” (see Mississinewa 1812) resulting in the first victory to be claimed by the U.S. in the war, though the majority of Campbell’s regiment was disabled for the remainder of the war due to frostbite. As a result of the “Treaty of Ghent”, which marked the end of the war having no clear victor, hostilities all but ceased between frontiersmen and the Native Americans in the region. The Indiana territory grew mostly from land purchases by the U.S. government from the native tribes.

Wartime Indiana

  • Until the initial shots were fired upon Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in 1861, the state of Indiana had no active military units. Within seven days, volunteers by the thousands had mustered in and assembled in Indianapolis ready to do their part to help “Save the Union”.

  • The American Civil War

    • Indiana soldiers fired the first and last infantry volleys, made the first and last charges, and were the first and last soldiers to die in the war. More men of military age percentage wise served from Indiana than any other state except Delaware. More than 24,000 Hoosiers gave their lives to preserve the Union.[ref]Source: “Indiana War Memorials” – Julie Greiner.[/ref]

    • In 1863, during the Vicksburg and Gettysburg campaigns, General John Hunt Morgan led his Confederate Cavalry Brigade “Morgan’s Raiders” into southern Indiana and Ohio. This defied specific orders by General Braxton Bragg to not cross the Ohio River. A battle occurred near Corydon in the southern part of the state against local militia where the rebels lost 11 killed and 40 wounded while the Indiana Legion’s losses were 4 killed, a dozen wounded. It was the only Civil War battle in the state of Indiana. Morgan continued northeast into Ohio and advanced as far north as Salineville which was the northernmost advance ever by a Confederate force. General Morgan and most of his men were captured and many spent the remainder of the war at Camp Douglas, Chicago, IL, however; Morgan and another Officer escape the Camp Chase Confederate prison camp, near Columbus, by tunneling out of their cell and into an airshaft. Then, with the aid of southern sympathizers, crossed the Ohio River back to Kentucky in a rented skiff.

  • The Spanish American War

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  • The Great War (World War I)

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  • Word War II

    • In the South Pacific from 1942 through 1944, the USS Indianapolis first saw action at Rabaul, New Britain, then New Guinea, the Aleutian Islands, Gilbert Islands, Solomon Islands and Mariana Islands, taking part in the battles of Tarawa, Saipan, Palau and Iwo Jima. The second in history of US Navy ships named in honor of Indiana’s capital city, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was launched in 1931. She began her 13-year career as the Flagship of the Scouting Force, and later, the Scouting Fleet. Prior to World War II, she served several times as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal ship of state. In 1945, the cruiser sustained heavy damage during the pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa. After major repairs and an overhaul “… Indianapolis received orders to proceed to Tinian island, carrying parts and the enriched uranium for the atomic bomb Little Boy, which would later be dropped on Hiroshima …”. On Sunday, the 30th of July, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was attacked and sunk. Of the 1,197 men in her crew, only 318 were rescued alive. The Navy did not not learn of the sinking of the ship for four days and that was by accidently discovery, dooming the rescue hopes for many. The breakdown in communications following the loss of the vessel caused much controversy including the court-martial of a high-level Navy officer and was, at least partially, attributed to its highly secretive involvements.

    • Another vessel serving in the South Pacific was the USS Mississinewa (AO-59)[ref]Mississinewa is a tribe of the Miami Indians that once inhabited the areas along what is now the Mississinewa River. The Mississinewa River is a tributary of the Wabash River flowing through north central Indiana. Mississinewa Lake is a reservoir near Peru, Indiana, on the Mississinewa River.[/ref], an oil tanker commissioned in 1944. The role of the USS Mississinewa was to refuel ships, while underway, in the South Pacific theater of war. She, along with the other Auxiliary Oilers, played a crucial role in keeping combat vessels supplied with fuel. On November 20, 1944, the USS Mississinewa was struck by a Kaiten (Imperial Japanese Navy manned suicide torpedo with a 3,418 lb. warhead), became totally engulfed in flames and subsequently sank with a loss of 63 U.S. Sailors and one Japanese Kaiten pilot. The sinking was captured in still photographs by Sid Harris, a sailor aboard fleet tug, Munsee.[ref]USS Mississinewa, AO-59 Website[/ref]. The only known footage of the sinking was captured by the Munsee crew while taking on survivors.

    • Hoosier Ernie Pyle of Dana, Indiana, was a popular Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent. Pyle reported live from the fronts in North Africa, Italy and Normandy for three years. Following VE Day, Pyle decided to cover the Pacific theater of operations. He was killed in action during the invasion of Okinawa after only a few weeks in the Pacific. Before the landing, he had related premonitions that he would not be alive in a years time. Ernie Pyle is one of the very few civilians to be awarded a Purple Heart.

  • The Korean War


  • The Vietnam War

Famous Hoosiers

Trivial Factoids

  • Vincennes, on the Wabash River, was the capital of the territory of Indiana. Indiana became a state in 1816 with it’s original capital located in Corydon.  The capital was moved to Indianapolis in 1820 due to its central geographical location within the state and access to the White River. The White River was deemed a major waterway but later proved to be too sandy.

  • The highest point in the state is Hoosier Hill in Franklin Township, Wayne County, with an elevation of 1,257 ft (383 m).

  • Indiana is the smallest in area of the continental United States west of the Appalachian Mountains

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